What is Tadoku?
In Japanese, tadoku means “extensive reading.”
Basically, it means “read a lot.” It is a great way to study language. Instead of boring textbooks, you can read fun stories.
Why is Tadoku good for studying language?
Many students use grammar textbooks to study language. They memorize vocabulary lists and take practice tests. They read difficult texts and answer questions. However, students don’t spend a lot of time USING the language.
To become fluent, we need to USE the language. Unfortunately, we can’t always speak to a native speaker. Also, conversation classes are expensive. With Tadoku, we can USE real language anywhere – even in bed!
Tadoku can help you in 4 skills:
When you read a lot, you see a lot of words. You don’t just learn a word’s meaning, you also learn how to use it in a sentence. In MANY sentences!
The best way to master grammar is to get a lot of input. Reading interesting stories will also help you make strong images in your mind.
Reading will help your output. Start by reading aloud. This will help train your mouth. Reading aloud is good practice for speaking confidently and smoothly.
Tadoku can be paired with audio books. Listening while reading is great practice. Your brain will match the words to the pronunciation.
Is Tadoku difficult?
No way! Tadoku is easy!
Actually, that is the first rule of Tadoku: Easy.
In school, you practiced reading a lot of short, difficult English. And maybe, you also practiced reading for TOEIC and EIKEN.
Was that reading fun and easy? Most students say “No!”
Tadoku is the opposite. Reading is fun and easy. You can choose the story that you want to read. Any topic is OK. The reading level should be below your English level.
For example, an upper intermediate student should read lower intermediate stories. A beginner student should read picture books.
You can read anything! Fantasy stories, like Harry Potter. Mystery stories, like Murder on the Orient Express. Romance stories, like The Fault in Our Stars. You can even read technology news or relationship advice!
What dictionary should I use?
While you tadoku, you shouldn’t use a dictionary. No dictionary. No grammar book. No notebook. No Google. Only your book.
Why? Tadoku is about using language, not studying. Focus on understanding and enjoying the story. Don’t worry about the details.
Also, a dictionary doesn’t really help us learn words. It just teaches us the English to Japanese translation. After you check the dictionary, can you use the word fluently? Usually, no.
In order to “learn” a word, you need to have a lot of input.
Some dictionaries have example sentences. This is good. We need example sentences to learn a word. Unfortunately, 1 or 2 example sentences is NOT enough.
We need to read / hear the word in a sentence many times. How many times do we need to get input?According to research, we need input the word 17 times! And, variety of sentences is important!
I want to learn fast. Should I read difficult stories?
We learn language by consuming “comprehensible input.”
What is “comprehensible input?” It is language that we can understand.
Let’s look at an example. Who are the best at language learning? Babies! We often say that babies and kids are “sponges.” If they grow up in a home with many languages, they can learn ALL of the languages.
Why? Because their parents speak to them, a lot. All of it is comprehensible input. If the child doesn’t understand, the parent gestures, points, rephrases… anything to make the children understand. This is the key.
Actually, children are NOT sponges. A child can quickly learn a language with comprehensible input. However, if the input is not comprehensible, the child will NOT learn.
When I was a child, my mother often spoke to her sisters in French. However, my mother and her sisters always spoke to me in English. Even though I listened to their French conversations, I did not understand French and I could not speak French. I only learned English.
Research shows that foreign language TV programs do NOT help babies learn foreign language. If you turn on Russian TV all day, a Japanese child will not learn any Russian. But, if a Russian babysitter interacts with the child, the child will learn Russian.
Adults are the same. We are “sponges” if we have comprehensible input. Tadoku easy stories, and read a lot!